Kirk Jowers, a former Republican operative and longtime Mitt Romney backer, remembers the first time he met Mike Leavitt, the man tapped to run Romney’s transition team. It was in the late 1990s, during a fight over allowing states to force online retailers to levy sales taxes. Leavitt was a staunch supporter of collecting online taxes — a position that split him from anti-tax purists on the right like Grover Norquist. As general counsel for the Advisory Commission On Electronic Commerce, Jowers was on Norquist’s side.
Jowers says the experience left him one of Leavitt’s biggest fans. Not because Leavitt buckled to the more conservative way of thinking — but because he refused.
“It was clear after the first meeting that Leavitt was five miles ahead of everyone else,” Jowers recalled. “He just danced around them and was looking around corners when everyone else hadn’t even seen the corner yet.”